Prisons targeted by fire-raisers in attempts to 'intimidate' staff

At least eight deliberate fires have been started outside Scotland's jails over the last five years.

Scottish prisons targeted by fire-raisers in attempts to ‘intimidate’ staff SNS

Police must have all the resources they need to track down and prosecute fire-raisers who are believed to have deliberately targeted vehicles outside jails to intimidate staff.

The Scottish Conservatives have called on the justice secretary, Angela Constance, to ensure Police Scotland and the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) have sufficient resources to bring those responsible for a series of wilful fire-raising attacks to justice.

Research carried out by shadow justice secretary Russell Findlay shows there have been at least eight deliberate vehicle fires outside prisons over the last five years.

Six vehicles were destroyed after being set on fire at HMP Addiewell in January this year and another was targeted at HMP Perth last month.

Two more were set alight at HMP Barlinnie in January 2020 with another attack occurring at the same prison in March the following year.

Other attacks are known to have taken place at HMP Shotts in November 2020 and at HMP Low Moss the same month.

Findlay said he believed what he termed as the “cowardly” attacks were “almost certainly” ordered by criminal gangs in a deliberate attempt to intimidate prison staff.

He said: “Dedicated prison staff dealing with society’s most dangerous people should not have to suffer such cowardly acts of intimidation.

“We know that organised crime groups use violence, threats and blackmail to smuggle drugs and other contraband into prisons. But more must be done to teach criminals that they can’t get away with terrorising staff.

“I’m calling on the Justice Secretary to ensure that sufficient resources are in place so that every single one of these attacks is subject to the fullest possible investigation and prosecution.

“Prison staff should be confident that they have the protection and support they deserve. If any other occupation suffered so many targeted attacks, there would be an understandable uproar so why should they be expected to put up with it?”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Assaults on prison staff, or damage to staff or prison property, are completely unacceptable.

“SPS take these incidents incredibly seriously and report them to Police Scotland for further investigation.

“The Scottish Government has provided an extra £29 million this year to the SPS to deliver a secure prison system on top of the £97 million in capital funding provided to continue the modernisation of the prison estate.”

A SPS spokesperson said: “The safety and security of our staff is a key priority.

“Incidents of alleged criminality are reported to Police Scotland.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in